Day One of the Scott MacPherson era was over in less than two hours, and to the casual observer it seemed a relatively short, mostly uneventful start to Augusta Lynx training camp.
But a lot was accomplished Sunday morning at the Civic Center, enough to stir some embers of hope that the 2000-01 season will last much longer and be quite more eventful than the previous two seasons.
"There's a lot of new faces in here and everything feels different," said center Lars Pettersen, who is back for a fourth season with the franchise and third in Augusta after finishing tied for third in the East Coast Hockey League in scoring last season. "It's weird, but it's good that everything's different. It's a fresh change, and I think it's going to be a lot better."
For Pettersen, right winger Louis Dumont and defenseman John Whitwell -- the only three holdovers from last year's team on hand for the start of camp Sunday -- the first day of workouts was their first chance to skate with some of the key players added during the summer.
Veteran forwards Scott Morrow and Russ Guzior, along with heralded defensemen Denis Chervyakov, Tom O'Connor and Martin LaPointe, skated for the first time as Lynx teammates Sunday. In all, 16 players and two goaltenders went through drills for about an hour before squaring off in a spirited 45-minute scrimmage.
"I'm really looking forward to playing with these guys," said Whitwell, who begins his third season with the Lynx. "I like all the changes that were made and think it's going to be a great year."
MacPherson wanted to keep things light Sunday to allow the players, especially the newcomers, to get comfortable with their new surroundings.
"This first day was just a sweat-and-stretch day, and since almost all the guys are coming from somewhere else, today was a day for them to get a feel for everything," MacPherson said after his first day of training camp as a head coach. "I liked what I saw out there. The guys showed a good level of skill and a lot of hockey sense."
Morrow, a 31-year-old who played briefly for the NHL's Calgary Flames, seemed right at home in his new surroundings.
"I've been waiting months here to get that first one under the belt, and now it's `away we go,"' said Morrow, who was an IHL all-star with Cincinnati two years ago but sat out last season because of a shoulder injury.
"I've been here a couple of months and slowly have gotten the chance to meet the guys, but today was the first normal practice for all of us," he added. "It was very exciting for me."
Day Two of training camp moves to the late afternoon, with today's session from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Civic Center. The practice will be open to the public from 7 to 8 p.m. only. Camp shifts to the IceForum Tuesday, with three straight days of sessions from 8 to 11 a.m. All practices at the IceForum are open to the public.
The Lynx open their preseason schedule Friday in Columbia when they face the Charlotte Checkers. They then travel Saturday to face the Checkers in Charlotte, N.C., before playing their only home exhibition game Sunday afternoon against the Macon Whoopee of the Central Hockey League.
The Lynx opened camp with rookies Reg Bourcier and J.R. Prestifilipo as their goaltenders and could open the season with the same tandem with the loss of Judd Lambert.
Bourcier, a 20-year-old from Kenora, Ontario, was one of the top goalies in the major junior Ontario Hockey League last season. He started the year in camp with the Manitoba Moose of the International League but was cut Saturday and arrived in time for Sunday's camp opener.
Prestifilipo, a 23-year-old from North Caldwell, N.J., starred for four seasons at Harvard and was named the Ivy League player of the year last season. He was drafted by the New York Islanders in 1996 but did not sign and opened this season in training camp with the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins. He then attended camp with Cincinnati of the IHL, where MacPherson was an assistant coach last season, and was signed Saturday by the Lynx.
Lambert appears to be on the verge of signing with the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League, but his situation with both the Bruins and Lynx became complicated after he suffered an injury Saturday night.
The 26-year-old Lambert started for Providence in a 4-3 loss Saturday at Springfield and reportedly injured an ankle. Attempts to contact Lambert and team officials in Providence were unsuccessful.
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